Pushing the door - Matt's story

Matt shares his family's story of adoption

We began to explore adoption after our first birth child was born. My wife is from a huge family, with siblings both by birth and adoption, and we always knew we wanted a big family. At that time, we were seeing lots of children who were waiting profiled by adoption agencies online and in magazines. We read the profile of one little boy, and immediately felt that we could possibly be the family he needed.

We wrote to the agency, knowing that there were some barriers right from the beginning. For one, this little boy was older than our birth son, and we knew that it’s usually advised that you adopt children younger than your birth children so as to maintain the birth order. We also knew that an age gap of at least two years is quite typical, but there were only eight months between our son and this little boy.

Despite these barriers, we tried pushing this door anyway, just to see if perhaps these were obstacles that could be overcome. And amazingly, a social worker decided to meet with us. We explored these issues together, and after lots of questions from both her and us, it was decided that our unique circumstance was one that could work really well for this little boy. Because he has some additional needs, and both my wife and I have experience working with children with complex medical and physical needs, our social worker recognised that we were able to care for him in the specific way he needed, and that our home could be a safe place where he would really be encouraged to be all he was created to be.

We know this isn’t everyone’s story. We know that the guidance is there for the best reason; to protect vulnerable children from harm. We know that there are some barriers that cannot be overcome, and that often waiting a little while is advised. But we chose to push that door and open up a conversation about the needs of our now son, and what we felt we could offer. We are so thankful to God, and to the social workers who explored our unconventional path with us.

After we adopted our eldest son, we went on to have two more birth children. We felt that our family still had more love to give, and so as a family of six we began to talk about adopting another child. However, while there was lots of room in our hearts, there wasn’t quite as much room in our house. We were living in a three-bedroom house; two of our boys were sharing a bedroom, our little girl had a room of her own, and our youngest was in with us.

We knew that we just couldn’t go forward with our application if we didn’t have a spare bedroom. There are very few things that automatically mean a family can’t apply to adopt, but most adoption agencies and local authorities need to know you have a spare room, to ensure than an adopted child will have a safe and private space to call their own.

This was another barrier that could have easily been taken as the end of our journey. We could have looked at our situation and thought, 'we can’t do this’, ‘we can’t change that’, or 'this is just too much’. But we knew that there were children waiting for family, and we felt that we had something we could offer.

We have always had the mindset that if we push a door in faith, that door will open if it is right for us. So in that same faith, we planned for a loft conversation and added an extra room to our house. Our older kids all still share their bedrooms, and while this won’t work for every family, it’s perfect for us; our kids hate being apart and often end up having weekend sleepovers in the same room anyway! Even though they are sharing, their bedrooms are set up so that each child has a space that is ‘just theirs’ if ever they need some time alone.

Once our new spare bedroom was finished, we applied to adopt again. The process was, of course, intense, and this time we had the added fun of a national lockdown which meant most of the process was done online. We were approved and matched with a little girl who has just recently come home to our house. Like our eldest, this little one has additional needs and has a pretty big medical history for someone so young, but she has settled into our family so well and we are absolutely besotted by her.

There are lots of reasons why we could have ruled ourselves out as an adoptive family, and when you don’t fit the exact mould, it certainly doesn’t make the process very easy. But there’s no such thing as a textbook family when it comes to caring for vulnerable children. Every child is unique, and so is every family.

Every 15 minutes, a child will come into care – a child who needs the love and care of family. The need is so great. And if you feel like you could play a part in caring for vulnerable children, we want to encourage you to be brave and to push that door. You could make a huge difference through fostering, adoption, or support – don’t let your barriers stop you from exploring what could be possible.

Matt will be running the London Marathon to fundraise for Home for good. He’s using his time spent training to share more of his story, in the hope that it will encourage others to push that door – check out ‘The Running Shorts’ on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram!

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